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Beach ready, swim set, go

Good weather or not, with the whole family or on your own, with all your friends or with your loved one: you can find us at the beach. Travelblog Bart’s Book has some tips for us.

Vlieland for two

Vlieland is definitely up there on the list of most romantic places. The island is only 12km long, no more than 2km wide and has a population of around 1,100 people. There is only one village. Moreover, Vlieland is car-free and has twice as many hours of sunlight as the rest of the Netherlands. This small section of the Netherlands seems shrouded in a soft-focus haze, serene, relaxed and extremely romantic. It’s the perfect place to escape together for a few days.

Check into one of the three rooms – named ‘the Waker’, ‘the Sleeper’ or ‘the Yawner’ – at Leut, right in the heart of the village, and you’ll get that old-fashioned inn feeling with a modern twist. Leut is a great place to relax if you’re hungry: there’s delicious coffee, Greek yoghurt with muesli and fruit in the morning and richly filled organic sandwiches for those with a larger appetite. Warm appelbollen and homemade sweet biscuits also make great decorations.

Take a stroll through the village – it will take you no more than two hours to browse around all the shops on Dorpstraat. Take a picnic basket from Bakkerij Wester (or have it delivered the next day) and ask them to add some Vlielandse Duimpjes (butter biscuits filled with almonds and aniseed). The perfect addition to a romantic sunset by the sea. You could also get up before sunrise and start the day off with a view of the rising sun. Scattered across the beach are old-fashioned blue and white striped beach chairs that keep the wind out of your cocoon. A bit chilly? Snuggle up under a blanket.

Be sure to go down to ‘t Badhuys beach pavilion, where the Vliehors Express will pick you up to go seal spotting on the island’s most western tip. The second stop on the express is at the drenkelingenhuisje, which served as a shelter for fishermen who got into difficulty. The photogenic white house on stilts was built in 1890. Nowadays it is an official wedding location and a beautiful place to be proposed to – just saying! ‘t Badhuys is the place to be for a long, hearty lunch. Put Gerrit de Oesterman on speed dial for the rest of your weekend: with him, you can pick fresh oysters and mussels, which you will go on to cook together in the evening and eat with your pasta.

Family time in Zeeland

Zeeland scores high when it comes to charming locations in nice villages. Places such as Meliskerke, just a stone’s throw away from Domburg, Middelburg and Vlissingen. Melis (as people from Zeeland call it) is home to a church, a supermarket, fewer than fifteen hundred people and bed and breakfast De Zilte Melis in a stately building, with six wonderful rooms. The design looks old-fashioned but chic at first sight, with black metal elements adding an industrial touch. They serve a great breakfast, but start day one of your family weekend with some sightseeing in Zeeland. On to the Pine House in Cadzand-Bad. The restaurant belongs to the Strandhotel where chef Sergio Herman also runs his top restaurant Pure C – and that’s another good tip for those who have arranged a babysitter for the little ones. Pine House’s breakfast buffet is without doubt the best in Zeeland. Then take a dive into the province: shopping at the wonderful cooking and bedroom shop Bianca Bonte in Oostburg, go on to Antiek Key in Groede and Ferini in Nieuwvliet, a shop-come-theatre-come-gallery where there’s something for everyone. You can end the evening at De 6 Linden: a beautiful renovated farmhouse in Heille run by a couple from Amsterdam. Inside, there’s just the right balance of rural and contemporary, and if the little ones are fed up, there’s an enormous games cupboard to surprise anyone.

Save day two for Middelburg: start the day at Luuks Brood & Patisserie, where you can see how the bread is baked. Then hire a boat and sail around the canals, after which you can moor at the large terrace of the colourful, family friendly Honeypie for a break. For some extra sugar (and a bit of education!), the Zeeuws Ministerie van Chocolade & Culinaire Zaken (‘Zeeland Ministry of Chocolate & Culinary Affairs’) is great fun. After the visit, young and old can relax at the children’s cafe and concept store Het Lokaaltje. By the end of the afternoon, the older ones really have earned a glass of wine, and the hidden courtyard garden of Fromagerie Forianne is the perfect place. Speaking of gardens, be sure to drop by the colourful Het Huis van Bloemen and garden shop Plantaardig when you get the chance.

Girls’ weekend in Bloemendaal aan Zee

Anyone who has ever heard of Camping de Lakens in Bloemendaal aan Zee in Noord Holland will immediately think of the silver Airstream Caravans on the beach. Or they’ll think of Surfana, the yoga and surfing festival held every year here in the dunes. However, there’s much more: recently four Laidbackshacks opened: comfortable dune huts in old sea containers with two separate bedrooms. And then there are the Beachlodges, where the beds are already made up when you arrive. Here, you can spend the night with two to four people – perfect for a girls’ weekend. There are hammocks, campfires and a picnic table. There’s also Gestrand beach tent. No place for ordinary citizens and by no means in beach hut style, but surf & turf made from Kennemerduin deer, grilled albacore tuna with couscous, tartar made from Scottish Highlander, Texel lamb, a Jopenbier from Haarlem and coffee from Brandmeesters. The most impressive thing is the height of the wooden pavilion, built so that it really catches all the sunlight.

As soon as breakfast has been tackled, walk to the Butterkop, home to the Finnish Sauna at De Lakens. De Wastobbe has both a sauna and a Turkish bath. Finish off the morning with a yoga class or boot camp – that’s up to you. What’s next? Then it’s time for an aperitif, surely? This is just as convenient: a couple of dune further on reopened beach pavilion Republiek Bloemendaal. The business has gone from a fine beach club that is open all year round to a beautiful location that – thank goodness – is still open all year round. Unlike most beach huts, De Republiek is understatedly stylish, spacious and light and has great acoustics (a plus for those with giggly girlfriends). If you’re looking to escape for the whole day, Zandvoort is just an eight might bike ride away. During the summer months, Hippie Fish is the best place in Zandvoort for a healthy, snug dinner or a day of chatting and people watching. The homemade fruit ice creams can be ordered in abundance. If you need to relax for a while after that boot camp, be sure to book a room at the beautiful Suite Suite in Zandvoort, an AirBnB decorated in 150 shades of white and beige.

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